Red wine has a lot of different types, among which, the most popular include Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Moreover, some specific types of red wines are better if you use them together with particular foods like fish or meat.
How do you know if that Burgundy you ordered is matched well with your food? And how about the light-bodied or full-bodied wines that wine lovers always talk about? So if you are like most people who do not know anything about wines and food and wine pairings, here is a short guide on the different types of red wine.
There are eight major types of red wine: Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Syrah or Shiraz, and Zinfandel.
Starting with the most popular, Cabernet Sauvignon is considered to be one of the most well-known red wine varieties. It is also described as full-bodied, meaning that its flavors are fuller and more complex than others. The cabernet sauvignon grape variety, from which the Cabernet Sauvignon wine is taken from, can be blended with merlot or cabernet franc varieties. It can also be a varietal wine, meaning it only used a single grape variety. Cabernet Sauvignon is best paired with red meat.
Merlot is also one of the most popular types of red wine. People who are new to wine tasting usually start with Merlot. It is good for introducing wine tasters to other stronger types of red wine. Merlot is less tannic than Cabernet Sauvignon, and has herbal flavors. You can also pair any kind of food with Merlot.
One of the most difficult grapes to grow is the pinot noir variety, from which Pinot Noir red wine comes from. Pinot Noir is rarely blended; it is usually a varietal wine. This is because of the soft, light tannic taste. It is also known for its fruity aroma, and often it smells like damp leather or tea leaves. Pinot Noir is a very good match for chicken, salmon, and lamb.
Syrah, also known as Shiraz, is known to produce the darkest types of red wine with complex and intense flavors. It can both be a blended wine or a varietal wine. Syrah also has a high tannin level and high acidity. Wine drinkers could usually taste strong blackberry flavors when drinking Syrah. Syrah is an excellent wine for meat because of its tannic flavors.
Just like merlot, malbec is usually blended with other grape varieties, such as cabernet blanc, cabernet sauvignon, and petit verdot. As a varietal, Malbec is a dark and inky wine that tastes like berries and plums. Malbec is great with meat just like most red wines.
Zinfandel is considered to be the most versatile grape variety among types of red wine. It produces a strong-flavored red wine, but it can also produce a semi-sweet rose wine. Flavors associated with Zinfandel depend on the climate where the grapes were grown. For cooler climates it tastes more like raspberry, while for warmer climates there are notes of anise and pepper. Zinfandel can be paired with meals that have tomato sauce and barbecued and grilled meats.
The sangiovese grape variety originated from Italy. Sangiovese wine is known for its oaky flavor when it is stored in barrels, but fruity and a little bit spicy when it is young. It is the main component of the Italian wine Chianti, but it can also be made into a varietal wine. Being an Italian wine, it is perfect for Italian and Mediterranean food.
And last but not the least, there is barbera, which also originated from Italy. The barbera grape variety is the third most planted variety in Italy. Barbera is also known as a versatile type of red wine, with the aroma of blackberries, and flavors of berries and plums. Aging can also add an oaky flavor to the wine. Barbera also has high acidity and is great for many kinds of food, just like Zinfandel.